With the 2020 NFL draft behind us, it’s now time to start evaluating all 255 selections. In this article, we’ll be grading all 6 of the Los Angeles Chargers’ draft picks from one of the most bizarre drafts we’ll probably ever see.
Grades are based on the amount of value the player brings at their respective draft position.
Round 1, Pick 6: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
After legendary quarterback Philip Rivers and the Chargers parted ways after the 2019 NFL season, it became pretty obvious that the Bolts needed to find his successor, whether it was via free agency or the draft. They did so with their first selection in Round 1 when they snagged Oregon signal-caller Justin Herbert. The former Duck is an extremely polished passer, and perhaps the smartest quarterback in the draft. With Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa already being off the board, the Chargers were left with Herbert.
Although he may not have been the Chargers’ first option in the quarterback draft pool, I’m certain the Chargers are getting a very talented player. Herbert can move and has a cannon of an arm. However, it may be in his best interest to sit behind a veteran quarterback like Tyrod Taylor for a season. 2020 may be a bit of a ‘bridge year’ for the Bolts, but I fully expect Herbert to be under center in 2021 and we may even see a glimpse of the young gun in the later part of the 2020 season if the Chargers aren’t in contention.
Round 1, Pick 23: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
The Chargers traded away their 2nd-round selection (37 overall) along with their 3rd-round selection (71 overall) to the Patriots to move back up in the 1st round to select Oklahoma star Kenneth Murray. The versatile linebacker is the complete package when it comes to the linebacker position and finally provides the Chargers with some speed.
Murray has good instincts and has the potential to become a three-down linebacker for the Bolts if he can slightly improve his pass coverage. His sideline-to-sideline speed is something to write home about, and it’ll be exciting to see how the Chargers utilize him. However, the Chargers did give up a good bit of draft capital to move back up to select Murray, but that is not a knock on the player himself. They got an A-grade player, but the capital lost lowers the value of this pick for me.
Round 4, Pick 112: Joshua Kelley, RB, UCLA
Los Angeles lost Melvin Gordon to the division rival Denver Broncos this offseason and desperately needed another hard-nosed runner to pair with Austin Ekeler. Kelley is just that. The Bruins’ product isn’t necessarily someone who will kill you with his speed. Although he did run a 4.49 40-yard dash at the combine, he is a downhill runner who will wear a defense down with short gains and occasionally ‘pop’ for a big play.
I don’t think the Chargers are expecting much more than that from Kelley, but he is a solid addition to the Bolts backfield, providing the Chargers with some good value with their 4th-round selection.
Round 5, Pick 151: Joe Reed, WR, Virginia
The Chargers snagged Joe Reed with their 5th-round selection and some experts simply label him as a return specialist and a special teamer. During his time at Virginia, Reed took 5 kicks to the house. He has incredible field vision and is quick with the ball in his hands.
Truthfully, I don’t see him being more than depth at the wide receiver position, but he provides the Chargers instant value in the fifth round, which is often hard to come by. I expect Reed to compete for the return-man job in Los Angeles, and in an ever-evolving NFL, it will be interesting to see how the Chargers utilize his unique skillset otherwise.
Round 6, Pick 186: Alohi Gilman, S, Notre Dame
With secondary depth being as important as it is in the NFL today, the Chargers decided to grab Alohi Gilman with their 6th-round pick. Gilman is a stout run defender and a great tackler, but he struggles in coverage and plays with his back to the ball. He may struggle to make the Chargers’ roster with an already talent-filled secondary, but he may be worth the gamble because of his potential to contribute on special teams.
Round 7, Pick 220: K.J. Hill, WR, Ohio State
Somehow Ohio State receiver K.J. Hill fell to the Bolts in Round 7 of the NFL Draft. This is one of the better steals of the draft in my opinion, and Hill could contribute right away for a Chargers team that lacks a true slot receiver. Hill is a crispy route-runner and has phenomenal hands. One thing Hill does lack is explosiveness, but in an offense with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, it doesn’t appear the Chargers would rely on Hill as a big-play receiver. I absolutely love this pick for Los Angeles as they get an impact player in a part of the draft where most players may not even make the roster.